Between November 29 and January 3, we’ll be reviewing the 2012 motor sport season month by month. Along with these features, Ed Foster will be assessing each Formula 1 team’s performance, starting with HRT. There will be galleries, competitions and Nigel Roebuck’s top 10 drivers. Finally, in the run-up to Christmas, each of our writers will talk about their highlight of the year, so keep checking back every day. This time we look at August.
World Endurance Championship
While Formula 1 was on its annual August break, the biggest event of the month was the 6 Hours of Silverstone.
As expected, the Lotterer/Fässler/Tréluyer Audi was again on pole, with McNish and Kristensen in second. The Toyota of Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Nicolas Lapierre was in third again but in the race they went well and finished second. Splitting the two Audis was a great result and worrying for the Germans. Not only was the Toyota’s pace good, but they had lasted the distance. The threat was becoming very real.
One interesting statistic came up in the LMP2 class. At Le Mans, 1990 winner Martin Brundle made an appearance, racing with his son Alex and Lucas Ordoñez for Greaves Motorsport. The Brundles would make a second appearance at their home circuit – where Martin won for Jaguar in 1988 and 1990 – and it was Alex who qualified first in class. The race didn’t go as smoothly for them, but in a brand new series it was nice to have a connection to sports car racing’s Group C golden age.
The championship battle remained tense at Mid-Ohio, with contenders Scott Dixon and Will Power finishing first and second. With Helio Castroneves down in 16th and Ryan Hunter-Reay retiring with six laps to go, the points race tightened up, with Power back in the top spot.
IndyCar then headed to Sears Point in Northern California for the Grand Prix of Sonoma. Power again came second, this time behind team-mate and Indy polesitter Ryan Briscoe. With Castroneves in sixth and Dixon and Hunter-Reay outside the top 10, Power’s championship lead was growing.
World Rally Championship
Rally Finland was another 1-2 for Citroën: Loeb first, Hirvonen second. Any hope the Ford drivers had of catching the soon-to-be nine-time champion in the standings had all but disappeared.
Germany brought yet another win, with Latvala finishing second and Hirvonen third. It was a minor victory for the Ford driver, but he was still two full minutes behind Loeb.
At the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit it was another Pedrosa/Lorenzo/Dovizioso podium. Neither of the two would flinch. Casey Stoner, meanwhile, came off his bike during qualifying, suffering multiple injuries; racing on regardless, he managed to keep his title hopes alive with a fourth place.
At the classic Brno circuit in the Czech Republic, Stoner was missing. Having been diagnosed with a broken ankle – making that fourth at Indy even more impressive – he faced the reality of sitting out a few races, sacrificing a third championship in his final season. No-one was surprised to see Pedrosa and Lorenzo in first and second, but the Casey-shaped void on the podium was this time filled by Cal Crutchlow, sealing his best finish in a Grand Prix yet after qualifying second.
What we were saying
Mat Oxley pondered Valentino Rossi’s future with Ducati:
“Whatever his head is thinking, I’m pretty sure I know what his body is thinking. It is still pulsing sore from those two big smashes at Laguna Seca, both caused by the same old front-end blues that have given Ducati riders nightmares for the past half decade or so.”
Gordon Kirby enjoyed NASCAR at the Glen, but yearned for the track’s former glory:
“It’s great that NASCAR has enabled Watkins Glen to stay in business as a professional racing venue, but it’s sad that there are no longer any major international road races at the track. Grand-Am runs a six-hour race at the Glen in July but it’s nothing like the old days…”
Paul Fearnley looked back at the rivalry between European circuits and their quest to be the fastest on the calendar:
“The 3-litre ‘Return to Power’ of 1966 marked Reims’ F1 hurrah, Lorenzo Bandini circulating at 141.4mph before having to jury-rig his Ferrari 312’s broken throttle with a stretch of wire snaffled from a fence.”
Our podcast in August was rather special. To celebrate 30 years on the job, we cajoled Deputy Editor Gordon Cruickshank into sharing his experiences with the team. The result was certainly one of the funniest podcasts we’ve done and probably shattered a few illusions about Motor Sport. We’re much less dysfunctional now, honest…
“Yes, the board meetings. Oh God. We were stuck in this tiny airless room with the wallpaper peeling and more junk piled into it, just enough room for us to squeeze in. The Old Man (Wesley J Tee, the owner of Motor Sport) got very cold very quickly so he would have an electric heater under his desk in front of his knees. The temperature would rise steadily and the sweat would roll off everyone’s faces.
“We would all have these discussions, but the Old Man could never remember who was who, he just went by the seats you were sitting in. So if you sat in the ad manager’s chair he would ask how the advertising was doing. It was much too difficult to explain that you weren’t the advertising manager, it was much easier to say ‘slightly below par, but good promises for next week’. And he’d be quite happy.”
What you had to say
Mikey gave the domestic perspective on Rossi’s problems at Ducati:
“Living in Italy, the expectation of instant success on all its sportsmen becomes all too clear. Alonso’s ‘failure’ in 2010 led to comments that he was ‘all talk’. Compared to MotoGP, F1 carries little weight so you can imagine the mood now. Rossi on a Ducati was the dream come true but what a nightmare it turned out to be.”
Jimmy C came up with a different idea for the second Ferrari seat if they didn’t re-sign Massa:
“I agree with the comments noting that Kobayashi would be a good fit. It would be nice to see a Japanese driver with some flair finally rewarded with a chance in a top car… failing that – Sato!”
Nigel (not that one) wondered if there was something fishy going on in ’93:
“I’ve always wondered why Prost took so much grief in ‘93; did he have problems with Mosley? That Hockenheim penalty was a joke and his title winning year’s end-of-season video was called Senna fights back! No mention of the World Champion…”